Whisky Distilleries

We are trying to visit every distillery that you can visit in the UK.

Jura Whisky Distillery, Isle of Jura, The West Coast of Scotland

 

In May 2016, we visited the Islands of Islay and Jura, for the Whisky Festivals.  We were booked in for the Jura Festival and stayed on the island at the Jura Hotel, next door to the distillery.  I have posted about all the other distilleries that we visited on Islay, but for some reason, I had posted lots about Jura, but not the distillery visit.  It was only when husband asked, had I added it to the ‘Whisky Distillery Category’ …….well the answer was no, so hence the reason I am doing it now…..he doesn’t ask for much, ferrying me around, just a nice meal and a glass, or rather a bottle of whisky for his collection now and again.  It takes two ferries to get to Jura from Oban on the west coast of Scotland.  This trip was in 2016, in 2017 we tried to visit again, but the weather was too rough and the ferry was cancelled.  We tried again this year 2018, and guess what, the ferry was cancelled again due to bad weather, we got our money back, but husband was just a little disappointed, but he did make up for it in some other distilleries.  But back to Jura, the weather wasn’t great, but the whisky was flowing and we had a great time.

We had booked a tasting menu with different whiskies, a trip out on a speed boat drinking whisky with sea spray and tasting beer and whisky that matched each other. 

Husband walking with an air of determination, there’s whisky in them there buildings 🙂

Inside the distillery we were given generous sized samples of the different whiskies and then we made our way to the hotel.  Which is a really nice, comfortable and friendly, so handy for the distillery.

The next day we had the tasting menu and you can see from the photos just how tasty it was.

Later we went out in the speed boat, for more tasting and husband won a bottle of whisky, hence the big smile in one of the photos.

After our sea trip, we went to the shop and husband made some purchases.  I took one of the bottles, I had seen other people getting their bottles signed.  The manager was retiring and both him and the new manager were signing bottles.  I got both and then I noticed the someone else, he was the head buyer, so I asked him to sign my bottle, so I got all three.    

After the signing, it was time to taste some more whisky and beer this time, to see if certain beers complimented the whisky.  So ended a day of lots of food, whisky and beer tasting, we would do it again, if the weather allowed us to 🙂

Just a little history……. The Campbell’s from Jura built the distillery around 1810.  The whisky produced then was a peaty character, which differs considerably from the whisky produced today. The distillery was rebuilt in 1884 and produced 64,000 gallons per year back then.  In the early 1900’s the distillery was dismantled and the buildings became a ruin.  In about 1950, a few people on Jura got together and decided to restart the distillery, creating jobs for the island. The new distillery was built on the same location using some of the old ruined buildings.  The distillery finally reopened in 1963 providing jobs for a quarter of the male workforce on the island.  The whisky however changed as much as the appearance of the distillery and the taste became less peaty and more of a Highland character.

 

Highland Park Whisky Distillery, Orkney, Scotland

Iceland Cruise March 2018 – On our visit to Orkney, we didn’t go to the Highland Park Whisky Distillery, as we went to Scapa Whisky Distillery on a coach trip.  We were on the coach, when I noticed we were passing Highland Park and took some photos.  As we want to come back to the Islands under our own steam, I thought I would enter the Highland Park into my ‘Whisky Distillery Category’  so I will remember to visit…….just incase husband forgets.

For over 220 years, they smoked their barley over 4,000 year old peat cut from Hobbister Moor, just seven miles from their distillery.  Completely woodless, this dense heathery peat burns slowly and with an astonishing intensity to create a complex floral aroma in their kilns that delivers the intensely balanced smoky sweetness found only in Highland Park…….well thats enough to make Husband want to go back 🙂

Scapa Whisky Distillery, Orkney, Scotland

 

 

Iceland Cruise March 2018 – When we arrived on Orkney, one part of our coach trip was to see a whisky distillery, Scapa Whisky.  The weather was overcast and cold, also the windows of the coach were tinted and not that clean, so the photos I took out of the window were a bit hit and miss.  The tour was interesting and you got a wee dram and the glass to keep at the end of the tour, which pleased husband, and he was also pleased to add a new one to our ‘Whisky Distillery Category’

 

A little history……….Scapa has long been known as the ‘other distillery’ on Orkney, overshadowed in both reputation and popularity by the neighbouring Highland Park. This is hardly surprising, given Scapa’s relatively small annual capacity of just under 1 million litres. In recent years however, Scapa has enjoyed increasing popularity as a single malt.

The distillery was originally founded in 1885 by Macfarlane and Townsend, near the town of Kirkwall at the head of Scapa Bay. This location was significant during both World Wars, when it was used as a naval base for the British fleet. Following WWII the distillery was taken over by Hiram Walker & Sons, and then existed in relative anonymity for years before being mothballed in 1994. However, from 1997 until 2004 a small team of staff from Highland Park used the Scapa facility to distil small amounts of whisky and keep the equipment in use.

In 2004, Scapa underwent an extensive refurbishment worth over £2million and full-time production re-commenced. Ownership of the distillery transferred to Pernod Ricard in 2005, and they have helped to raise the profile of the Scapa brand considerably since then. Shortly after this takeover the traditional 12 year old Scapa was replaced with a new 14 year old expression. This was subsequently replaced again with the current 16 year old expression in 2008.

Talisker Distillery, Carbost, Isle of Skye, Scotland

This was our second visit to Talisker Distillery on the Isle of Skye, May 2017.  Unfortunately or fortunately in my husband eyes, was the fact that had I lost my photos of five years ago, and I wanted to revisit to take more for my ‘Whisky Distilleries Category’.  So he was quite happy to stop on our road trip of the Island, so I could retake photos, but this time there were quite a few visitors, many more than before.  Whisky is now making quite a comeback and you would be amazed at the amount of different languages that you hear……its good for Scotland, especially for the islands, as it means work, in fact there are three brand new distilleries that I heard about, that have been built recently.  We did visit one which I will post about later, but back to our visit of Talisker.

A little history for you …….Talisker’s founders, brothers Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill were classic Clearance landlords. Having bought the rent of Talisker House on Skye and extensive lands in 1825, they set about forcibly shifting the resident population from their farms, either to new settlements at Carbost and Portnalong on the shores of Loch Harport and Portnalong, or off the island entirely.  In 1830, they opened their Talisker distillery in Carbost using the cleared populace as its workforce. Their venture into whisky-making was not a success and by 1848 the bank was in control. For the next three decades Talisker stumbled through a series of other owners who found it hard to keep afloat a distillery which is remote even by 21st century standards.  In 1880, Talisker’s fortunes changed when Roderick Kemp and Alexander Allen bought the distillery and proceeded to expand the site and construct a distillery pier – until then all the casks had to be floated out to waiting ships.  Eventually after many years a grouping of major blender morphed into Diageo.  In 1960, the distillery burned down and was silent until 1962 while it was being rebuilt, in to what you see now.  

May 2017

 

Ardbeg Distillery, Isle of Islay, Scotland

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Ardbeg was the last whisky distillery that we visited on Islay in 2016, and I must admit, I went a bit over board on the photos, its a very photogenic place. Using malted barley sourced from the maltings at Port Ellen, Ardbeg claims to produce the peatiest whisky in Islay, so of course my husband really enjoyed his tastings…..he had mine as well.

Ardbeg lies solitary, in a small cove off the south coast of Islay. It was once a stage for illegal distillation, when smugglers took advantage of the remote location and exceptional conditions for whisky production. Eventually, excise men seized the original, illegitimate buildings from the smugglers and destroyed them. It was not until 1815 that a legal distillery was established and founded by John McDougall. Sitting nearby leviathan distilleries; Laphroaig and Lagavulin, Ardbeg has always produced a very sought-after single malt, despite its production scale being less than half that of its neighbours.

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Glengoyne Distillery, Dumgoyne, Scotland

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Glengoyne Distillery is a picture postcard whisky distillery, which we visited in 2016.   It was a shame that the sky had clouded over on our arrival, but that didn’t take anything away from tasting this whisky, which is unpeated, due to the fact the water is unpeated and the malt used is similarly devoid of peat.  Which I actually liked, husband likes them peaty, but he still bought a bottle for his collection.

The Glengoyne distillery sits at the foot of Dumgoyne Hill near Loch Lomond. The distillery burn, as it is known, tumbles down the Dumgoyne Hill providing water for the 1.1 million litre capacity whisky distillery. In the past, the woodlands and undulations which covered the surrounding area gave superb shelter for the illegitimate distillations that were brought about by heavy spirit taxation. During the early 19th century, it is rumoured, there were as many as eighteen illicit Stills in the area. The whisky that came from these Stills was taken to the local blacksmith, who filled earthenware pots with the rough, wild spirit and employed local girls to walk the 14 miles to Glasgow with the whisky concealed beneath their hooped skirts. The dense woodland once provided shelter for Rob Roy MacGregor who secreted himself in a little hollow when pursued by the English army.

In 1833, the local farmer, George Connell was granted the license to legally produce whisky in the area. He founded the Burnfoot Distillery, which became Glenguin Distillery in 1861, then, in 1906, became Glengoyne. The previous owners Lang Brothers were acquired by Robertson and Baxter. The distillery was renovated and a further still was installed. In 1984, Lang Brothers received a Royal Warrant, having supplied whisky to the Queen Mother. In April of 2003, Ian MacLeod acquired Lang’s blended products and the Glengoyne distillery from the Edrington Group for £7.2 million.

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Tullibardine Distillery, Blackford, Scotland

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Following on from Deanston Distillery, May 2016, we visited Tullibardine Distillery.  This was a new Whisky for me, not so to my husband, but it was interesting to find one that I had not heard of before. The distillery stands at the western end of the village of Blackford, which itself stands in the shadow of the Ochil Hills and on the north side of the main A9 about half way between Stirling and Perth.

Tullibardine whisky distillery was founded in 1949 on the site of an old brewery, one which was said to have brewed ale for King James IV’s coronation back in 1488! The brewery itself dated back to the 12th century so it’s fair to say that the site has had an incredibly long brewing and distilling history.

Named for Tullibardine Moor, the distillery draws its water from the Danny Burn and lies to the south-west of Blackford. The area is renowned for the purity of its water, indeed Highland Spring is bottled locally. Queen Helen, the wife of King Magnus of Alba, drowned in a ford after falling from her horse not far from the town and Blackford was named accordingly.

Following purchase by Invergordon in 1971, Tullibardine’s stills capacity was increased from two to four. Two decades later, Invergordon was acquired by Whyte and Mackay and a year later the whisky distillery was shut down. In December of 2003, the distillery was put back into production following the June acquisition of Tullibardine for the sum of £1.1 million. A year later a Café and Shop were opened at the Tullibardine distillery, which today has a capacity of 2.5 million litres per annum.

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